Nokia, Apple, Obama, Ubisoft, ETSI: Intellectual Property

Nokia Oyj’s claim of patent infringement on electronics, including mobile phones and tablet computers from Taiwan’s HTC Corp. (2498), will be reviewed by a U.S. agency that has the power to block imports of the goods.

The International Trade Commission agreed to investigate Nokia’s complaint, filed with the agency last month, according to a statement yesterday. No date has been set for a decision.

Nokia said on May 2 it filed lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany over inventions for mobile devices, naming HTC among several manufacturers. The company, which lost its 14-year title as the world’s biggest seller of mobile phones last year to Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), is seeking to expand revenue from its patent holdings.

HTC is using proprietary technology of Espoo, Finland-based Nokia to improve hardware and software functions in its devices, the company said in a statement when it filed the suits.

Nokia has joined Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to make Lumia smartphones that run using Windows Phone software, which competes with Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android operating system. HTC makes phones for both Android and Windows Phone.

A final decision in the trade commission’s investigation will be made “at the earliest practicable time,” according to the statement. A hearing will be held and then a commission judge will issue findings in the case. If a violation is found, the six-member commission will then vote on whether to block HTC phones from entering the U.S. market.

A spokesman for HTC wasn’t available to comment. Nokia and HTC have been partners in fighting patent-infringement claims by IPCom GmbH, a licensing company that obtained mobile-phone patents from Robert Bosch GmbH in 2007.

About 10 companies, including Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Research in Motion Ltd., dominate the global industry. There was about $312 billion in worldwide sales of handsets in 2011, a 19 percent increase from 2010, according to Bloomberg Industries.

Apple Copied Samsung Inventions for IPhone Use, U.S. Judge Told

Apple Inc. introduced its iPhone in 2007 using Samsung Electronics Co. technology that it didn’t want to pay for, a lawyer representing the Korean electronics company told a U.S. trade judge yesterday.

Samsung contends Apple’s devices, including the iPhone, iPad tablet computer and iPod touch media player have infringed as many as four patents. All came from two decades of work Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung spent improving mobile phones, the attorney for the company said.

“All of these things that Samsung built up, Apple was using when it entered the market,” Samsung lawyer Charles Verhoeven of Los Angeles-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP said at the beginning of the trial yesterday at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington.

The case before ITC Judge James Gildea, and another patent case by Apple against Samsung that’s in the midst of trial before a different trade judge, are part of a global battle between the two companies for increased share of a market that Bloomberg Industries said was $312 billion last year.

Apple denies infringing the Samsung patents and is challenging their validity, just as Samsung is doing in regard to Apple’s allegations.

Samsung’s case against Apple is In the Matter of Electronic Devices, Including Wireless Communication Devices, 337-794, and Apple’s case against Samsung is In the Matter of Electronic Digital Media Devices, 337-796, both U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

For more patent news, click here.

Trademark

Obama Campaign Sues Seller of Election Materials

The Obama presidential campaign filed a trademark- infringement suit against a website that sells election-related materials.

It is the second similar complaint the campaign has filed against Washington-based Demstore.com since October 2011. According to the complaint filed June 1 in federal court in Washington, the campaign objects to what it says is unauthorized use of the “rising sun” trademark.

The campaign said it’s damaged because it depends on its sale of authorized merchandise as a fundraising technique for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Also, when people make even a “relatively small” purchase of trademarked merchandise through the official website, the campaign obtains the buyer’s contact information and uses it “to reach out to that individual repeatedly to seek further donations and further opportunities to promote the campaign.”

The earlier trademark suit against Demstore.com was dismissed following a Jan. 25 court filing from the campaign requesting termination of the case. No details of a settlement were available in the court file.

In the new case, the campaign asked the court to bar further unauthorized use of its “rising sun” and other trademarks, and to order the seizure of all unauthorized merchandise. Additionally, the campaign seeks money damages, including extra damages to punish the website for what it says is deliberate infringement.

Demstore.com didn’t respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The Obama campaign is represented by Barry J. Reingold, William C. Rava and Jeremy L. Buxbaum of Seattle’s Perkins Coie LLP.

The new case is Obama for America v. Demstore.com, 1:12-cv- 00889, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington). The earlier case is Obama for America v. Demstore.com, 1:11-cv- 07646, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

For more trademark news, click here.

Copyright

Ubisoft Asks Court to Declare It Didn’t Infringe Beiswenger Book

Ubisoft Entertainment SA (UBI) filed a copyright suit against author John L. Beiswenger two weeks after he dismissed a copyright suit he filed against the French maker of computer games.

On May 15 Beiswenger and Ubisoft jointly filed a court document asking that the case he filed in April be dismissed. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, the parties said they reached a settlement in the dispute.

Beiswenger, a Pennsylvania resident, had claimed that Ubisoft’s 2007 “Assassin’s Creed” games infringed the copyright for his 2002 work “Link: A Novel.”

In the new suit, Ubisoft asked the court to declare that the game doesn’t infringe Beiswenger’s copyrights. His claims are “entirely meritless and were based on patently non- copyrightable elements” contained in the two works, Ubisoft said.

Montreuil, France-based Ubisoft said it filed the new case despite Beiswenger’s dismissal of the infringement suit because “his claim could be refiled at any time.” The company wants to establish “once and for all” that its “Assassin’s Creed” doesn’t infringe Beiswenger’s copyrights directly or indirectly.

Ubisoft argued that the “ancestral memories” element Beiswenger claimed was infringed “has existed in the cultural consciousness for decades -- long before the publication of either ‘Link’ or ‘Assassin’s Creed.’”

In addition to a declaration of non-infringement, Ubisoft asked the court for an award of attorney fees and litigation costs.

The French games company is represented by Stephen S. Smith of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machitinger LLP of Los Angeles.

The new case is Ubisoft Entertainment SA v. Beiswenger, 3:12-cv-02754-NC, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco). The original case is Beiswenger v. Ubisoft Entertainment, 1:12-cv-00717-CCC, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg).

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Saab CEO Claims He Was Target of Industrial Espionage Attempt

The chief executive officer of Saab AB (SAABB)’s defense group said his phone was bugged when he was in negotiations with Switzerland over the sale of 22 of his company’s fighter jets, Agence France-Presse reported.

Hakan Buskhe claimed he was the target of industrial espionage and didn’t identify the person or company behind the action, according to AFP.

He said he had been “closely watched” and “monitored, one way or another,” AFP reported.

Switzerland said in November it would buy the planes, choosing them over aircraft produced by France’s Dassault Aviation SA (AM) and the European EADS (EAD) group, AFP reported.

Industry Standards

ETSI Chooses Apple Standard Over Nokia for Mobile-Phone SIM Card

Mobile-phone makers agreed on a new standard for smaller SIM cards, overcoming a deadlock in which Finland’s Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) and Apple Inc. had competing proposals.

The so-called “fourth form factor” will be 40 percent smaller than the current smallest SIM card design, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute said in a statement on its website, following a meeting held May 31 and June 1 in Osaka, Japan. “It can be packaged and distributed in a way that is backwards compatible with existing SIM card designs.”

ETSI agreed to pick Apple’s SIM card standard, beating a proposal from Nokia, MacWorld said on its website, citing cardmaker Giesecke & Devrient. Spokesmen for ETSI and Nokia couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

In March, a two-day meeting to adopt a format from competing proposals by Apple and Nokia finished without reaching a decision. The smartcards that identify wireless subscribers are standardized to reduce industry costs and give consumers freedom to switch handsets and networks. Smaller versions permit the design of thinner phones.

To contact the reporter on this story: Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at vslindflor@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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